Ah the Fecundity—You’ll Never Know What You Might Find

Monday, September 9, 2013

It rained heavily this morning, by the end transforming the daily noon steambath into cloudy, breezy, and tolerably cool conditions. So instead of trying to let my mind go blank during a quick lunchtime break today, I took a 20-minute walk around the Garden. I like to walk and poke around dark, brambly areas people avoid, like basements. Those less trodden areas appeal to me; maybe because they are usually quiet, and slightly ignored. But they are very much appreciated by ferns, fungi and other inhabitants of the wet, dark floor where overlooked treasure may be found.

Fungi creep people out because they seem so unnatural. Their sudden yet ephemeral appearance, their fantastic forms, plus their association with decay (and therefore death) combine to give them an “ick” factor. But I like them. A lot. So since we had a bit of a downpour this morning, I was looking for something a little unusual. The kingdom of fungi did not let me down.

I spotted these twisted, bent-looking shapes barely peeking up above the little tufts of grass growing in a brightly shaded clearing between larger plantings. They at first look like decaying, fallen palm fruit, but are instead attached to the ground. They are fungi, or more precisely the fruit of a fungus, i.e. a mushroom. They are devilishly difficult to identify (especially for me), but I can occasionally get to a general idea of what kind of fungus I’m looking at, for example, puffball, stinkhorn, russula, etc. Not this time.

Fungus in situ
Orange fungus.

Can anyone help with this ID? I challenge (and implore) you!

Note: The best lead I found was Calostoma cinnabarinum the orange stalked puffball fungus.

Fungus in situ 2
Another in the same area

 ex situ mushroom

Update 9/10/13: I believe this is a Glaziella species, possibly Glaziella aurantiaca.